The Senate has finally confirmed former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as the next Secretary of Defense. The 58 to 41 vote ended "a long and contentious nomination process marked by an unprecedented GOP filibuster of a presidential cabinet level nominee," notes TalkingPointsMemo.
The Republican filibuster of their former colleague ended this afternoon. Hagel will succeed Leon Panetta and will "immediately inherit a budget crisis," notes USA Today.
Last week, the Pentagon announced that it plans to furlough the majority of its 800,000 civilian employees to help meet a $46 billion shortfall caused by automatic spending cuts that begin March 1 and its stop-gap budget that prevents shifting funds to urgent needs.
Four Republicans joined 54 Democrats to approve Hagel: Cochran (MS), Johanns (NE), Shelby (AL) and Rand Paul (KY). "All 41 no votes came from Republicans," adds the Washington Post. Former Republican presidential nominee John McCain also switched his vote to a "no."
Hagel voted to authorize the Iraq War in 2003. The Nebraska Republican later became a frequent critic of the Bush Administration prosecution of the war.